Lunch Police

Posted February 28, 2007 at 6:51pm

Just when things were getting a little too stuffed-shirt around the Capitol, enter fitness guru and “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” star Richard Simmons to bring a little levity. [IMGCAP(1)]

Simmons was in the Capitol and House office buildings on Wednesday, spreading joy — and some unsolicited advice — to unsuspecting staffers. Simmons was dressed in an uncharacteristically sedate suit (alas, there were no short-shorts and terry-cloth headbands) although his signature wild hair was in effect. He accosted one group of House staffers leaving the Longworth cafeteria.

“I need to check your lunches,” Simmons announced, according to one of the surprised, sandwich-toting aides. “He approved of our sandwiches, but made me look him in the eye and promise not to eat my chips.”

Which the aide said he just couldn’t bring himself to do.

Other Simmons wacky antics during his visit included bursting into song, kissing ladies’ hands, and even holding hands with one surprised reporter.

Clowning around aside, Simmons’ official mission on the Hill was talking to lawmakers, including Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), about improving physical-education standards as part of the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act. He was a guest of Rep. Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.), who linked up with Simmons after catching his TV appearances in which he stressed the importance of physical fitness for kids.

And although the run-in was all in fun, one of the accosted staffers (guess which party) couldn’t resist making a little political observation. “It was good to see a Simmons back in the Capitol,” said the staffer. “ We just wish it was [ex-Rep.] Rob Simmons (R-Conn.).”

The ’Stache, Losing More Buzz. Although the rest of the country got the memo that mustaches officially had fallen out of fashion circa the mid-eighties (post the ber-hunk Tom Selleck era), the news took a little longer to reach Washington, D.C.

But Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) finally got the message, and now the freshly shaven Congressman is sporting a new look around the Hill. “He looked good,” one HOH spy said. “Although I didn’t recognize him at first.”

A spokeswoman confirmed that her boss’ long-mustachioed lip is now bare, but didn’t have any details.

And with DeFazio’s ’stache history, the ranks of the mustache caucus are shrinking at an alarming (at least to fans of the facial hair) rate. HOH reported on the mustache-shaving ways of Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) last month. Who’s next? Rep. José Serrano (D-N.Y.), whose righteous ’stache is his trademark?

But filling in on the facial hair caucus is Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), who HOH has seen of late sporting a neat goatee.

Here, There and Everywhere. Presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has an uncanny ability to appear to be everywhere at once. He’s practically an ubiquitous presence on the cable-TV circuit, and never met a quote he didn’t like. Now, apparently not content with his status as one of the most visible senators, he’s even taken over the House side of the Capitol, where, according to the Congressional Record, he actually managed to introduce an amendment last month.

The Feb. 27 issue of the Congressional Record (yes, HOH reads her Congressional Record, right after she finishes with Page Six) notes an amendment offered by “Mr. McCain.”

Now, even our peripatetic Sen. McCain couldn’t be that crafty.

We’re guessing that the entry was an error, since it followed another amendment introduced by Mr. McCaul, as in Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas).

Or … maybe this is some kind of pro-Texas strategy for winning the presidential nomination. We’ll ask McCain next time we see him, which should be in about 0.03 seconds.

Just Don’t Bore Me. Famously witty Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) doesn’t mind if you’re a rude, obstructionist creep. But for goodness sakes, just be an interesting rude, obstructionist creep. Is that too much to ask?

Barney of the bon mots was getting impatient during floor debate on Wednesday, as Republicans showed just how good they’re getting at being the minority party by forcing votes on motions to recommit and “message” amendments that clearly weren’t going anywhere.

A good strategy, maybe. But Frank wasn’t awarding any style points.

“I would say to my Republican friends: I know you’re not going to be worried about our time, I know you’re not going to be worried about civility and comity, but could you take boredom into account?” he snipped on the floor. “The next time you’re being obstructive could you be a little creative and think of at least a couple of variations and could you not ask for the same vote four times? Because I got Members falling asleep over here because they are just so bored by what you’re doing.”

Got that?

Please send your hot tips, juicy gossip or comments to hoh@rollcall.com.